In the past 100 years, the Brown-hooded Parrot has become one of Panama’s glamour bird species due to its beauty and increasing scarcity.
By Rex Graham
It is found in large forests that have not been logged or not logged recently, and it tends to avoid human settlements and agricultural areas.
Like many birds, the size of the forest matters to Brown-hooded Parrots. They require the ecological diversity that only large, humid evergreen, cloud forests and large lowland subtropical forests can provide. The parrot eats fruits, seeds and leaves of certain mistletoes, according to the Handbook of Birds of the World.
The parrot once lived on an island created in 1914 when the water level in Gatum Lake was raised to create the Panama Canal. The 1,562-hectare (3,860 acre) island is called Barro Colorado.
Brown-hooded Parrot Avoids Poachers
The canal is an ecological experiment that proved that forest fragments and downsized forests don’t work for many Central American birds. Roughly 70 of Barro Colorado Island’s original 200 bird species, including the Brown-hooded Parrot, have disappeared from the island since its formation.
In an unexpected twist, the Brown-hooded Parrot flourishes on a different kind of island: large forests inaccessible to poachers. For example, all species of easily trapped parrots are targeted by poachers in Mexico. However, Brown-hooded Parrots are rarely, if ever, taken not only because they are so rare, but also because their remaining habitats are so remote.
Another island is the El Quebracho Private Reserve in Nicaragua. Birdwatchers often see continuously chattering Brown-hooded Parrots flying above the reserve’s canopy in small groups.
Brown-hooded Parrot a Birding Tour Target
Eagle-Eye Tours offers a 9-day birding tour of Panama, including the Panama Canal Zone. The lodging includes several days at Gamboa Lodge in an area of the country with fewer people than parrots. Brown-hooded Parrots are found in the area along with other parrot species, including the much more plentiful Red-lored Amazon, a beautiful, noisy, mostly green parrot.
Panama is the most tropical Central American country. It is home to toucans, jacamars, motmots, manakins, antbirds, cotingas, tinamous, tanagers and parrots. (Harpy Eagles and Ocelots are occasionally seen in Panama.)